Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Second Advisor

Faye Deters

Third Advisor

Thomas D. Shelton

Abstract

A significant challenge facing public schools is the need to increase student achievement while having student gains enhanced through growth models. Teaching strategies/methods have evolved over the years from an "island" approach where the teacher was alone in his/her classroom and responsible for students progressing to a broader yet more specific approach to teacher professional development in order to enhance student learning.

Districts, schools, and individual teachers have long valued professional development and professional learning. These educational professional learning opportunities collectively give the district, school, and individual teachers a community at work in which a collective focus and commitment to improving practice has long been understood to assist students increase their academic achievement (DuFour, DuFour, & Eaker, 2008).

DuFour, DuFour, Eaker, & Many (2010) argue one of the key components of a professional learning community is a results-oriented focus which is characterized by the outcome rather than the strategies to get there. Too often, education professionals focus on the process and activities of what teachers do rather than the evidence of their students' outcomes based on teaching and learning. Hord (2004) furthers the point by arguing that Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) show improvement of student achievement results through such communities in schools.

In Madison County Schools, Madison County, KY, there are multiple opportunities for teachers to develop professionally as individuals, team members, schools, and collectively as a district. These professional learning opportunities are well planned and documented in professional growth plans, comprehensive school improvement plans, and district improvement plans in order to fulfill requirements such as local Certified Evaluation Plans (CEP) and The Kentucky Framework for Teaching (Danielson 2012). All Madison County Schools, specifically the five middle schools, use Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) to further develop and enhance teaching with the overarching purpose of supporting greater student achievement.

This study utilized the five Madison County middle schools' and district-level data to assess the relationship between teacher perception of Professional Learning Communities and how well students achieve at each specific schools and district-wide. The characteristics evaluated included teachers' perception of professional learning through PLCs along with actual student data specific to the teacher.

Prior research focused primarily on individual predictors of variance on student achievement, while this study combines all of the predictors for observation on predictors of variance.

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